The Cleaning Lady
“You must embrace who you really are,” says Luz’s abuelita (Ingrid Oliu). And what Luz has to embrace is a long time female tradition in being a curandera, a spiritual healer. At first Luz (Lliana Carter-Ramirez) thinks her grandmother drank or smoked something to make such a wild statement. But little by little, she sees that her grandmother is not under any medication. It all starts a typical day when Luz, she somehow manages to work in 5-inch black heels, her grandmother gives her the news on Luz’s 21st birthday. This is one gift I’m sure she wants to return—quickly.
She goes to work at a hotel in Los Angeles and comes across a vagabond woman who tells Luz of her future. She brushes it aside as crazy talk and gets to work. It is at the hotel where she is able to relax with her comadres (girlfriends): The no nonsense Dora (Carla Valentine), bubbly Mariana (Carmelita Maldonado) and the seductive Lupita (Ericka Martinez). The women commiserate on life, romance and how in the hell when they will leave their current job for something better. Then it happens. Luz meets Mr. Right and Gorgeous looking in the form of Enrique (Adrian Gonzalez). He is totally into Luz, well, that’s not totally accurate. A demon (Mario Martinez) needs a healthy body to live and spread his foolishness and mayhem to innocent bystanders. Enrique’s body does the job. He toys with Luz’s emotions while bringing forth her carnal desires unto him. Enrique is very convincing but with the help with the comadres, Luz begs off no matter how much it kills her.
When Luz isn’t dealing with her loony grandmother, her curmudgeon father Rafael (the wonderful Gerry Del Sol) gives her a hard time about anything. However, Enrique is the only thing he encourages her to date and give a little extra if necessary. That’s the power of the demon, makes you do things you wouldn’t automatically do. From that point on, the hilarious road to normalcy begins and its one good laugh after another.
Playwrights Josefina López (Real Women Have Curves) and Christopher Chacon (PSI Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal) have really touched the funny bone with their mystical comedy. I, mean, seriously, who better to clean up a spiritual mess then smart, feisty cleaning women with cojones.
The most eerie component which set the tone of the production was the original score by Bill Reyes. Not only is it creepy, in a good way of course, his music is hauntingly sensuous and melancholic. When Luz sees Enrique, the music cues in to warn her to stay away from him but at the same time the music instructs her to stay and give in to her feelings.
The Cleaning Lady has everything, fun, mysticism, feminism, a great looking guy, wonderful writing and excellent original music. TCL is a jewel that needs to be viewed and appreciated for what it is: a rare fine.
THE CLEANING LADY plays through Sun. Nov. 22 at CASA 0101 2009 E. First Street, Los Angeles in Boyle Heights. For reservations call (323) 263-7684 log on to www.casa0101.org